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In-Person Teachers Question Pay Boost For Online Teachers

BLUFFDALE, Utah – Jordan School District teachers heading back to the physical classroom said they feel blindsided by the district’s decision to give online elementary school teachers a $3,000 stipend.

“It doesn’t seem right,” said Laurie Larson, who teaches physical education to students with special needs at several schools in the district.

Larson said she and fellow teachers were surprised by the news, and wondered why in-person teachers aren’t being offered hazard pay.

“They have so much fear of being exposed,” she said. “They are the ones that are going to have to be in the hallways, worried about the bathroom, worried about cleaning.”

A spokesperson for Jordan School District said the $3,000 stipend only applies to the online elementary teachers.

“This is compensating teachers for doing extra work with the larger number of students in the online classes,” said Sandy Riesgraf, director of communications for the Jordan School District.

In addition to teaching extra students, Riesgraf said online teachers are also getting the boost in pay because of extra training that’s required. She added that it’s standard practice to pay teachers more when they agree to perform additional assignments.

But Larson said many teachers tried to save the online positions for high-risk colleagues and that the district could have easily requested more teachers to switch to online instruction.

“We didn’t apply for online because we knew that there were people that had to be home,” Larson said.

Larson also called on the district to be more transparent about the pay increase and thinks it should have been disclosed while teachers were deciding about the upcoming school year.

“It’s just very degrading to those that are in there working when they go behind your back and do something like this,” she said.

According to the district, around 11,000 students — or about 20% of the total student population — signed up for online classes.

One teacher who used to work for the Jordan district said the decision to give a pay boost to only online educators is pitting teachers against each other.

“I think everybody realizes after last spring that teaching online is a lot of work,” said Wendy Moss, who resigned from the district because of health safety concerns and is now teaching at a different district.

Moss said she understands why teachers are upset and questions why all teachers aren’t getting a pay increase.

“I do think teachers who go into a physical classroom should get hazard pay — absolutely,” Moss said. “The teachers who are going to actually be in the classroom are putting their physical safety in danger and they feel like that is not being addressed.”

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